How to Transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

A simple step-by-step tutorial on how to move your WordPress.com blog to self-hosted WordPress.org by Blogging For Keeps

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WordPress.com is the free version of WordPress and a good place to launch a blog. It has a lot of the same features as the self-hosted version (Woprdpress.org), but also a lot of limiting capabilities. As your site grows, it’s best to move your free WordPress.com blog over to self-hosted WordPress to take advantage of everything that WordPress is capable of!

The biggest difference with WordPress.com and self-hosted is that WordPress.com hosts your site on their servers, meaning, you don’t own that asset. With WordPress.org, you host your own site, which means you own it! Not a bad business plan, right?

Not only will you have 100% ownership, you’ll also have total control over the look and feel of your blog! Sounds good to us! Self-hosted WordPress gives you access to all kinds of new themes, features, plugins and functionality that you don’t get with WordPress.com.

This step-by-step tutorial will walk you through moving your blog from WordPress.com to the self-hosted version of WordPress. Make sure you read until the end because the last step is MAJOR and gives you some tips on how to not lose out on old traffic!

Ready?! Let’s get to it…

1. Get Started

First thing’s first! You’ll need to find a WordPress hosting company, and we highly recommend Bluehost. It’s the host that both Jess and I personally use, and also the one that hosts this site! If you’re just getting started, Bluehost throws in a free domain. If you already have a domain, that’s fine too, you’ll be able to transfer it if you like.

2. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress might sound scary, but we promise it’s super simple! We have a great tutorial here that walks you through the steps to get your hosting set up properly and shows you EXACTLY how to install WordPress on your own so you don’t have to pay anyone else to do it for you! Once your hosting is set up and you’ve installed WordPress, we’ll move onto transferring your content!

3. Export Content from WordPress

Pat yourself on the back! You’ve already done so much! Now we’ll need to export your content from your WordPress.com site.

Go to Tools > Export. Select All Content and then hit Download Export File.

export wordpress content

Your file will be downloaded as an XML file, so locate it and put it somewhere you can easily find it for the next step.

4. Import to WordPress

Okay, now let’s import that content into your new self-hosted WordPress site.

Login to your new WordPress site and navigate to Tools > Import. On this page, you’ll see a list of different platforms, hit Install Now under WordPress. Once it’s installed, click Run Importer.

run wordpress importer

A new page will open that prompts you to choose a file for upload. Select your file and then hit Upload file and import.

import wordpress content

If everything looks fine with your file, WordPress will then prompt you to select some settings. Select an author from the dropdown or create a new one. Typically we recommend just using the one that’s already in there! Check the box to import attachments.

import settings for WordPress

Disclaimer—sometimes this doesn’t work all that well. When we tested it, we ran into a few hiccups. The first time we attempted it, all the media came over, but none of the actual posts. The second time, we unchecked ‘Download and import file attachments’ and the posts came over. Bizarre, but we got the content over eventually! Try it with the box checked the first time and if you run into errors, try doing it a second time with the box unchecked.

Hit submit and wait while your content starts importing! When it’s complete, you’ll see a success message at the bottom.

5. Troubleshooting Images

Unfortunately, the importer does a so-so job of pulling your images over from WordPress. We found that it worked on some images, but the majority of our images were still hosted on the old WordPress.com site. If you’re not sure, open a post and click the Text view to see where the images are hosted. We found that images with ‘files.wordpress.com’ in front of them did not transfer. If this happens to you, install and activate the plugin called Import External Images. Go to Media > Import Images to fix any images that didn’t move over.

import images from squarespace

We selected all files, hit Save, and then hit Import Images Now button. If you read the copy above the button, you’ll see that it only imports 50 posts at a time, so once those 50 are done, hit Refresh and then Import Images Now button until all of them have been imported.

import external images

6. Fix Permalinks

The default permalink structure for WordPress.com is different than WordPress.org. Navigate to Settings > Permalinks. From here you’ll see a bunch of different permalink structures, so you want to find the one that’s closest to what you had before. We noticed that WordPress.com, was using the Day and Name permalink structure.

permalink structure

Select that one and hit Save Changes.

Congrats! You did it!

We hope this tutorial made your transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress a seamless and easy one! Join our community on Facebook and subscribe to our email list to stay connected and motivated!

P.S. Not on WordPress.com? Here’s the transfer tutorials for Blogger to WordPress, and SquareSpace to WordPress.

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I'm Blair Staky—I help women turn their blogs into thriving businesses by sharing my secrets to growing a 6-figure blog. I'm so glad you're here!

Leave a Comment

  1. 1.16.17
    Meghan Leigh said:

    Hey! This step by step was great…it helped me do the installation and switch (not without some bumps) on my own…I do have a related question though. I have installed a new (mojo) theme and all my previous posts/media have been imported, but they are not formatting to the theme layout properly. I was wondering if you had any troubleshooting tips for this (and yes I’ve emailed the sellers, but of course Mojo is just prompting me to buy the installation package)

    Thanks,
    Meghan
    ablankspace.com

    • 5.11.17

      There might be individual formatting in the old posts that’s causing the problem. Unfortunately, that’s pretty common with theme changes if you’ve added code into each post!